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tonight on "worldfocus" -- the release of the only man convicted of blowing up pan am flight 103 caused controversy but the pictures of his triumphant return to libya have triggered outrage. tonight, we have the fallout. a radical idea to battle the taliban. legalize afghanistan's opium trade turning poppies into medicine instead of heroin.
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afghan farmers would earn more money and the taliban would get a lot less. lost in all the focus on afghanistan's election was richard holbroooke's latest mission to neighboring pakistan. we didn't miss it and have a report on what may be a new american strategy. and in one italian city, there's no business like cheese business where parmesan is so highly valued you can literally take it to the bank. >> from the world's leading reporters and analysts, here is what's happening from around the world. this is "worldfocus." made possible in part by the following funders -- major support has also been provided by the peter g. peterson foundation dedicated to promoting fiscal responsibility and addressing key economic challenges facing america's future.
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>> good evening. i'm martin savidge. scottish officials were already under fire even before they made it official yesterday and allowed a convicted terrorist to fly home to libya to die. the outrage only deepened today after these pictures of libyans celebrating abdel baset al megrahi's release were broadcast around the world. al megrahi, of course, was convicted for the 1988 bombing of pan am 103 over lockerbie, scotland. the terror attack killed 270 people. and today, once again, many people were demanding to know just why had he been set free. this matter of justice is once again our "lead focus" tonight. >> reporter: abdel baset al megrahi should not be welcomed back to tripoli, that was the message, the warning to libya from president obama in america. the demand responsible for the deaths of 270 people, the biggest terrorist attack in britain was treated more like a celebrity or royalty changed into a dark suit, he was met off
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of the plane and then repeatedly hugged by colonel gadhafi's own son in front of a jubilant crowd. this morning the foreign secretary david miliband said the sight of a mass murderer getting a hero's welcome is deeply distressing. even alex salmon who's government gave the go-ahead for the compassionate release said the celebrations were neither proper, wise or appropriate. but in tripoli a speaker at the youth rally was triumphant. >> translator: this meeting has been distinguished by the safe return of our brother, abdel baset al megrahi, a new great victory added to the strength of his revolution. it's greatness, its policy, its historic path and in its leader colonel gadhafi. >> reporter: but it's been the flying of the scottish solstice
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flag in celebration at the airport that's angered politicians of a opposition parents in scotland, who all now condemn the decision by the smp to release al megrahi just eight years into his life sentence. >> i'm actually speechless. i think i describe him as beyond appropriate. i think this is not -- not a nice thing at all. it's particularly bad i think to see the scottish solstice flying. because whatever you want scotland to be associated with it's not those scenes we've seen in libya. >> scotland announced this morning it was releasing him for compassionate reasons and then instill outrage which came. >> reporter: most of the lockerbie bombing were american and on u.s. television last night the condemnation of this prisoner release was clear, before al megrahi even arrived home the state department announced it had put pressure on the libyan government. >> i think obviously in light of the release, we have had a number of conversations with the government of libya. obviously, he will move back to libya, and we certainly believe
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that as a convicted criminal, he's not entitled to a hero's welcome. >> reporter: diplomatic relations between libya and the u.s. which had been improving could now be threatened by these scenes. this year is the 40th anniversary of the al fatah revolution in libya and colonel gadhafi is clearly using al megrahi's return as a propaganda coup despite the fact that this man is a convicted murderer who is terminally ill and expected to die within three months. >> that was james blake of itn reporting. the british aren't just talking about how unhappy they are about the way the libyans handled ali al megrahi's return home. they may be prepared to do something about it. prince andrew, the duke of york, had been expected to visit libya and perhaps meet with moammar gadhi early next month. the idea was to promote trade. but now, there are reports that that visit may be off. in afghanistan today, a day after the voting, both the leading presidential contenders, incumbent hamid karzai and opposition candidate abdullah
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abdullah, were both claiming victory. but abdullah also raised serious e vote. about the legitimacy of >> a lot of irregularities which have taken place should have been prevented and shouldn't have happened. so there are a lot of complaints about irregularities throughout the country. there are reports of rigging. >> the first results are expected tomorrow. of course, almost everyone agrees that if the u.s. mission in afghanistan is to succeed, it will require more than just military might. afghanistan remains a deeply impoverished country and many of its 33 million people need work and income. one way they make money there is by growing poppies which are used in the production of opium and heroin. poppy growing is one of the main sources of income for the taliban. and the united states, naturally, is anxious to stop it. but now another idea has emerged, to have the government subsidize poppy growing and use it to producpain medication that the world desperately needs.
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it's our in-depth spotlight report, and it comes tonight from germany tonight and deutsche welle. >> reporter: this opium field in afghanistan is being destroyed solely for the benefit the cameras. an actual fact, opium cultivation is a flore ushing industry and opium provides the raw material for heroin. in recent years, illegal opium farming has been on the rise. the illegal drug business is the taliban's main source of income and it helps finance its war machine. >> we have the opportunity -- >> reporter: the u.s. is stepping up the pressure on its military allies in afghanistan to take action against illegal opium farming but many fear this will increase the likelihood of attacks against international truce. however, there is a solution to the problem. afghanistan's large-scale poppy cultivation could be put to an alternative and legal use. to produce medicines, such as morphine. farmers could apply for a state license to farm poppies. the senate council and international security and development think-tank have
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called for a poppy for medicine program, which would allow farming communities to produce morphine locally to provide rural communities with economic opportunities. >> in the earnings of farmers would receive from morphine would have stripped that of heroin. again, let's remember who is making the money out of this drug. it is isn't the ordinary farmers. the guys who make the money are those at the top end of the chain, the officials and the drug's barons, who are getting rich, you know, beyond their world extremes from this. so this is, again, creates a sustainable revenue year and year out for the farming communities which at the moment doesn't exist. >> reporter: previous attempts to tackle illegal opium farming have failed. too many afghan farmers depend on poppy cultivation for their livelihoods and are not convinced the options are viable. >> translator: were i were to grow wheat instead i have a harvest of 100 kilos at most, that is barely enough for two months. i can get over 20 kilos of opium
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from the same piece of land and that's a lot of money. >> reporter: and in force of ratification of the opium fields pushes farmers into the arms of the taliban. this could be avoided if farmers were to grow poppies for medicinal purposes. local support for the project is looking promising. >> we already have strong affirmations from a couple of tribal elders that they'd be happy to see this occur within their villages. they really are redactable people and they want to do -- they want to ensure that the benefit of their village comes first. so if they buy into this as a village, they would do anything within their power to secure it. >> reporter: the proposal for seize morphine production taking place in afghan factories. the project have already been successfully implemented in turkey, which is now the main morphine supplier to the u.s. from europe. and like afghanistan, turkey used to have a serious problem of illegal opium farming. the turkish model might just work in afghanistan.
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not only would licensing that controlled cultivation of poppy to produce medicines such as morphine help boost the afghan economy, it will also remedy a world wide shortage. in many developing countries, such as pakistan, patients are left to suffer as a result of the high cost of medicine or lack of availability. countries like afghanistan could be supplying, says former german army doctor. >> translator: a rise in morphine production would help reduce prices in developing countries, and that would help make it available to many more people. exporting it would bring money into the country. it would be sold. it wouldn't be given away. and the money could be used in afghanistan to boost the economy. there's very high unemployment hor. new jobs would be created. there's so many reasons why this could work. >> reporter: but the trouble is that the u.s. refuses to approve legalization of opium poppy cultivation even though supporters of this option say it could be the answer to many of afghanistan's problems.
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>> that was deutsche welle reporting from afghanistan. should the united states continue efforts to get rid of afghanistan's poppy crop or buy it up for medical use? you can see what one of our blogger's has to say on that very issue by visiting our website. that's across the border from afghanistan, in northwestern pakistan, an american drone missile attack today reportedly killed 12 people. intelligence officials quoted by the associated press says that the target was a taliban commander believed responsible for a series of attacks on both sides of the border. no word yet if he was among those killed. it's gotten virtually no attention, we wanted to tell you tonight about an important american diplomatic mission that's been going on this week in pakistan. america's special representative to pakistan and afghanistan, richard holbrooke's been holding a series of meetings there -- and not just with top government officials. anita mcnaught of al jazeera english reports from islamabad that holbrooke reached out to
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conservative muslim leaders and got an earful once he did. >> reporter: u.s. envoy richard holbrooke's final public address in pakistan had a familiar bush era ring whether it. >> it is a different kind of war with a different kind of enemy. an enemy that straddles the border of the two countries and poses equal threats to afghanistan, pakistan and the united states. >> reporter: but this was a different kind of visit. apart from the usual calls on the president and foreign minister, the u.s. envoy requested meetings with far-right conservative religious groups. groups - they told us - america usually avoided. >> this was a new development. it was a surprise for us. >> reporter: but after the surprise, the history lessons. traditionally anti-american in policy, these groups pulled no punches at their meetings. >> translator: for 14 years you give the fighters of this region the best military training money could buy. you armed and garlanded them to
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fight the soviets. you have created the mess here. so why are you coming here complaining to us? it is your mess. >> reporter: richard holbrooke also asked to meet jamaat-e-islami. while the organization rallied it's anti-american protests on the streets outside. jamaat presented a critique of u.s. policy and conduct. from the contentious u.s. drone missile strikes in tribal areas, to the cultural onslaught from the west corrupting muslim youth, to pakistan being dragged into the afghan conflict. pakistan political analyst tareq pirzada says despite the rhetoric, these meetings were political good sense. >> these are pragmatic politicians. they can play to the galleries, they can satisfy the public, make public statements which are apparently antagonistic to the united states but at the same time they can tacitly support the policies. >> reporter: and on the american side? >> here they are trying to create an impression, at least,
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that we are not walk away. we air partner for a long time. >> reporter: but pakistanis are politically savvy and well informed. few here approve of the ongoing an presence. however broad and incluse the engagement this time, america has yet to convince pakistan's people. public opinion in pakistan remains suspicious of america's motives and goals in the region, suspicio of its relationship with india, and most of all feels that this constructive engagement is likely to end, once pakistan ceases to be of strategic use to america. all political groups here asked the u.s. to use soft power and economic growth to resolve the intractable conflict that continues to spread through this region. anita mcnaught, al jazeera in islamabad. >> if you want to get a sense what american diplomats working in pakistan are sometimes up against, consider this account we came across earlier this week in "the new york times." it describes a recent meeting between the obama administration's new under
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secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, that's judith mchale, and a pakistani journalist. according to the "times," she told him how america wants to build bridges to the muslim world. his response, quoting now, "you should know that we hate all americans. from the bottom of our souls, we hate you." and now to our weekly roundtable. our look back at some of the week's most important international news stories. tonight we'll discuss the presidential election in afghanistan. can it be considered a success? what comes next? the ongoing security nightmare in iraq. at least three more people were killed in a bombing at a market near baghdad today. and then that controversial decision to let that libyan man convicted in the bombing of pan an flight 103 go home to die. why were the obama administration's protests ignored?
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joining us this week, charles sennott. he is the executive editor and vice president of "globalpost." and dagmar aalund. she is the deputy international editor of "the wall street journal." welcome to the two of you. >> thank you. >> all right, let's start with afghanistan. a lot of american money, a lot of american lives was invested in makinthis election possible. very low turnout. and then you had the president hamid karzai, who claims it was a great success. charlie, was this really a success? are we to believe that? >> it was a success but it didn't go as bad as many it feared it might. i think that in the end of the day, this election had two things happening. it was a political contest. and we all sort of know where this ends. it's going to end with karzai being re-elected if other collective wisdom is accurate. but -- but it's also a contest in which we're really testing the obama administration's new counterinsurgency policy. they said they would increase the troops by 21,000. we're in the middle of that. we're in the middle of the
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offensive. they say they want to bring security so that we can really see this nascent democracy take route. and you know, it didn't didn't suck snead that and certainly raises questions. >> isn't there a deal here, supposedly? we tell the afghan people, we'll try to make it secure as possible. but your obligation is to come out and vote. >> right. well, i think one thing we brought out in our articles is how -- in some ways the taliban has had success and they've turned the focus of this election to you know -- it's violence versus votes. so it's not so mh who is going to win. is it going to work? and so in that sense, they have had some success and they definitely, it seems like the voter turnout has been small, partly because of this disruption and bombing. >> how do we know that it's fear that kept people from voting? maybe they just didn't like the system or the candidate's offer. >> no, i think the evidence that it was fear was there on the ground. from what we heard from our
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correspondents, you know, "globalpost" has an excellent correspondent in kabul who very uniquely gets to travel the whole count row and that's jean mckenzie. what she was pointing out to us is that the in the south voter turnout is very low. in the south, in the east, the taliban has great control. that's where they really got pashtun belt and that's where they hold the most sway. their voter turnout was low, particularly among women, who really did not come to the polls. whereas in the north, where you have a more tajik ethnic background the taliban has less sway. the polls were packed. and this is sort of, you know, to the extent we need to watch this race, and i don't than we do, because as i say, i think karzai wins it, but it does favor abdullah. this is the former foreign minister, abdullah abdullah, who will benefit from this low voter turnout in the south. >> but what does this low voter turnout predict as far as the future in this country in how we are going to get out of this war? >> right. well, i think as you were
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mentioning, you know there is aq, with our long engagement, the u.s., our allies. and i think this election's important because i don't think -- some people are saying maybe the window is not so large for getting this on track. so i think this election is a very important point for that. >> well, you mentioned iraq, and i want to turn to that now, because we had that horrible spate of bombings that took place in baghdad, where you had hundreds of people who were killed and wounded. and again i don't want to keep beating this into the ground, but another place where we have lost a lot of american lives and spent a great deal of american money. and it seems to be coming unglued. >> sure. they're connected, i think. i mean, the reason that we are so far behind in what the u.s. and the international partners hope to achieve in afghanistan is because the u.s. turned its focus to iraq. i think that's widely perceived even within the military leadership as a mistake. it was a mistake to take our eye off afghanistan. it hurt us in afghanistan.
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but in iraq, we had the successes of the surge which were being trumpeted and general petraeus i believe did have success. i do think the surge really did help secure baghdad, and in important ways. and now as we shift our focus to afghanistan, we're watching a slide back in iraq. and they are connected. we're an overstretched military at this point. i don't understand why the drawdown isn't happening on a greater speed in iraq. but i also think this bombing, it's really important to reflect on the anniversary of the -- this bombing fell very close to the anniversary of six years ago. the u.n. bombing. and if you look back to the six years ago in iraq, it's extraordinary how far the country has come. i also feel -- i was there for -- covering that bombing, those were the dark, dark days of iraq's history. and now things are better. >> but how do we know we aren't going back to those days? >> i don't think you can say. and there are some points coming up as the u.s. draws down.
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for instance, the elections in january, parliamentary elections, i think that's a point a lot of people will watch about possible violence. >> well, i want to turn, before we run out of time, to lockerbie, and the release of abdel baset al megrahi. the scottish leadership there decided it was okay to pardon him because of his medical condition. >> that great scottish name, megrahi. >> megrahi. what about this decision to let him go? >> yeah,eply disturbing video. when you watched- >> we're talking about, what, the return to tripoli. >> the return to tripoli. when you watched those people there on the tarmac celebrating and waving scottish flags, i mean that's hard for an american audience in particular to handle. and i do think it is disturbing. but i also think there is something that reveals itself in this release. and that is a different understanding of -- of crime and punishment for terrorism in
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europe than there is in america. in america, this is relatively new to us compared to, for example, britain, which had a 30-year struggle with the i.r.a. of course. or spain, which had that long struggle. france with the algerians. >> but it was -- you know, it was over a hundred americans, 150 i think. >> but the release says something about europe just looks at terrorism and prosecution i think in i very different context. you've spent more time in europe i wonder if you agree. >> i think it's not just terrorism and in other criminal cases like murder. sometimes a much shorter sentence than in the u.s. >> but even they must be taken aback by the response. >> well, yeah. >> by the response and the celebration. >> and i think this also shows is scotland, which about ten years ago, got the right to make independent decisions on some things, like this -- >> of course they really play up now. >> right. >> the big moment on the world stage. >> right, right and getting a
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lot of criticism. and especially the way the news kind of leaked out, they're getting criticism for the handling of it in general. >> we've got to end it there. dagmar aalund, charles sennott. thank you both very much. >> thank you. >> some other news of interest from around the world tonight. first, the latest on the global h1n1 swine flu pandemic. there was an important warning today from the western pacific director of the world health organization. the western pacific region includes china, japan, vietnam and australia. >> with the increase in the global spread of the virus, more fatal cases will occur in many countries of the region. the countries will need to prepare their health care system to manage the severe patients and therefore reduce preventable deaths.
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>> poor areas of the world, like africa, are considered particularly vulnerable because they are least likely to be able to develop or even distribute a vaccine. and there's word tonight that five people who contracted the h1n1 virus on the island nation of mauritius, off the east coast of africa, have died. in south america, in chile, officials say the death toll from the disease now stands at 128. but they say its spread there is now slowing. world wide, an estimated 1,800 people have died of swine flu. that's considered to be a relatively low number. but it's up more than 20% from the week before. new zealand was one of those western pacific countries warned today about the spread of swine flu. but that's apparently not what's on the mind of many folks there tonight. another topic is corporal punishment. in a nationwide referendum that ended today, nearly 88% of new zealanders voted "no" when asked this question, "should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offense?" there is already a law on the
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books in new zealand that prohibits parents from hitting their children. some parents think the law is intrusive, that it's a private family matter. and that's what inspired today's referendum, which is nonbinding. tell us what you think, should governments make laws about how to punish children? or it is a private matter? go to to share your opinion. we heard from many of you last night about scotland's decision to free the lockerbie plane bomber. most of you strongly disagreed. effie wrote, "although i am a believer in second chances, i also believe it is wrong for a terrorist of this magnitude to be freed. what does the scottish government think it will achieve?" but a woman whose nephew was killed september 11th told us, "i applaud the judges' decision. only by showing such compassion can we live in the world we say we want. justice must be tempered by compassion." finally tonight, a story you might find a little "cheesy," literally.
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in the northern italian city of reggio emilia, local bankers have found a unique way to help farmers weather the current economic crisis. the bankers have formed so-called "cheese banks," accepting giant wheels of the region's famed parmesan cheese as collateral for loans. if you think that sounds a little silly, consider this, a single wheel of this cheese can be worth more than $400. altogether, it's estimated these vaults could hold nearly $200 million in cheesy deposits. no word on whether wine or bread banks are to follow. that's "worldfocus" for a friday night and for this week. i have a sudden hankering for crackers. i'm martin savidge in new york. as always, we inte you to visit our website, that's have a good night and a good weekend. "worldfocus" is made possible in part by the "worldfocus" is made possible in part by the following funders -- -- captions by vitac --
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major support has also been provided by the peter g. peterson foundation dedicated to promoting fiscal responsibility and addressing key economic challenges facing america's future.
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PBS August 22, 2009 12:00am-12:30am EDT

News/Business. Martin Savidge. (2009) (CC) (Stereo)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Afghanistan 23, U.s. 15, Pakistan 11, America 11, Libya 9, Us 8, Iraq 7, Europe 4, Tripoli 4, Taliban 3, Obama Administration 3, Gadhafi 3, Richard Holbrooke 3, Baghdad 3, Abdel Baset Al Megrahi 3, Charles Sennott 2, Megrahi 2, Abdullah 2, Martin Savidge 2, Hamid Karzai 2
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Duration 00:30:00
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